2017 Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)

The 2017 COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustments) increase will be 0.3% based on the percentage increase of Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers of the third quarter of this year. The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment is about a $4 monthly benefit increase for the average retiree, or about $48 per year.

The 2015-2016 COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustments) saw no increase as the inflation measure used by the Social Security Administration showed a negative inflation rate. However, benefits cannot be decreased despite a negative inflation measurement. COLA impacts benefits to about 59 million social security recipients, 1.96 million military retirees and 4 million disabled veterans. The 2015 COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustments) was 1.7% which was slightly higher than the previous year’s increase of 1.5%.

2017 Cola Effective & Payment Dates:

  • Retired military veterans, VA rates for compensation and pension for disabled veterans and surviving families will be effective December 1, 2016 and will be reflected on the first check to be paid on December 31, 2016.
  • Social Security benefits will be effective beginning with the December 2016 benefits, which are payable in January 2017.
  • Federal SSI payment levels will be effective for payments made for January 2017.

COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustments) are for the following individuals or areas:COLA Cost of Living Adjustments

How COLA is Determined

The Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (aka Cost-of-Living Allowance) is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).  It is based on the percentage increase of the CPI-W from the 3rd quarter of the previous year versus the current year’s 3rd quarter (July, August, and September).

Veterans who retire during the current calendar year will receive a temporary partial COLA due to already receiving a military pay raise in January.

  • The COLA increase is only set at the CPI-W if the increase is less than 2 percent.
  • If inflation is between to 2 to 3 percent than COLA is set at 2 percent.
  • If the CPI-W is greater than 3 percent than COLA is set at 1 percent below the CPI-W.
CPI-W Measurement
2014 2016
July 234.53 234.789
August 234.030  234.909
September 234.170
Third quarter total 702.73
Average (rounded to the nearest 0.001) 234.242
Inflation According to the CPI-W

Third quarter 2014 will be used for the three month average comparison as the law dictates that the SSA use the same three months of “the last year in which COLA became effective”.  There was no COLA increase in 2015.

For August and September 2016, the index increased 0.3% prior to seasonal adjustment.

History of Social Security COLA (cost-of-adjustments) since 1975
Year COLA Year COLA Year COLA
1975 8.00% 1989 4.00% 2003 1.40%
1976 6.40% 1990 4.70% 2004 2.10%
1977 5.90% 1991 5.40% 2005 2.70%
1978 6.50% 1992 3.70% 2006 4.10%
1979 9.90% 1993 3.00% 2007 3.30%
1980 14.30% 1994 2.60% 2008 2.30%
1981 11.20% 1995 2.80% 2009 5.80%
1982 7.40% 1996 2.60% 2010 0.00%
1983 N/A 1997 2.90% 2011 0.00%
1984 3.50% 1998 2.10% 2012 3.60%
1985 3.50% 1999 1.30% 2103 1.70%
1986 3.10% 2000 2.50% 2014 1.50%
1987 1.30% 2001 3.50%  2015 1.70%
1988 4.20% 2002 2.60% 2016 0.00%
2017 0.3%
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